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April 3, 2021

Renowned folk singer Shaukat Ali dies in Lahore

LAHORE: Shaukat Ali, a well-known folk singer and an internationally known cultural ambassador of Pakistan around the world, passed away here on Friday.

According to his son Ameer Shaukat Ali, the funeral prayers for the departed soul would be offered on Saturday between Maghrib and Isha prayers at Samsani, Johar Town, in Lahore. The renowned singer had been experiencing multiple medical issues, including diabetes and a liver transplant. Moreover, he had undergone a heart bypass surgery a few years ago.

The maestro was one of the most prolific artists of the Pakistani music industry, with a singing career spanning over five decades. He was introduced into the Pakistani film world as a playback singer by the renowned film music director M Ashraf in a Punjabi film ‘Tees Maar Khan’ (1963) and, later on, he established himself in singing of ghazals, songs, national anthems and Punjabi folk songs.

Born on May 3, 1944, into a family of artists in Malakwal, a town in district Gujrat, (the area now falls in the jurisdiction of district Mandi Bahauddin), Shaukat Ali started singing in college in the 1960s. His first mentor was his elder brother, Inayat Ali Khan.

As a folk singer, he was not only popular in Punjab (Pakistan) but also in Punjab of India. Shaukat Ali also toured and performed overseas wherever there were significant population centres of Punjabi immigrants like in the UK, Canada and the US.

Shaukat Ali was known for singing Sufi poetry with great vigour and a wide vocal range, for example Heer Waris Shah and Saiful Maluk.

Shaukat Ali received the 'Voice of Punjab' award in 1976. In July 2013, he was honoured with the 'Pride of Punjab' award by the Pakistan Institute of Language, Art and Culture (PILAC). He gave a live performance at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, and was awarded the highest Pakistani civilian presidential award ‘Pride of Performance’ in 1990. His song ‘Kadi Te Hass Bol Vey’ was used in the 2009 Indian movie ‘Love Aaj Kal’. He also released a track titled ‘Jagga’.

Shaukat Ali also gave performances at the All Pakistan Music Conference events and appeared frequently on Pakistani television shows. He is the father of Pakistani singers -- Imran Shaukat Ali, Ameer Shaukat Ali and Mohsin Shaukat Ali.

Shaukat Ali was also known for his heart-warming war-time patriotic songs during the wars of 1965 and 1971, such as ‘Saathio, Mujahido… Jaag Utha Hai Sara Watan’ and ‘Apna Quaid Aik’, among many others.

He had been unwell for the past several years. In 2017, a Canadian company with the help of his son Mohsin Shaukat Ali, produced a one-hour long documentary to commemorate his contributions to the Pakistani music industry. This documentary showed the struggle Shaukat Ali made throughout his career and also included some of his past performances as well as interviews with many singers including Lata Mangeshkar.

Shaukat Ali's folk song hits include ‘Kyun Door Door Raindey O’, ‘Kaddi Te Hass Bol Vey’, ‘Jab Bahaar Aaii Tau Sehra Ki Taraf Chal Nikla’, and many Punjabi folk songs including ‘Chhalla’, ‘Jagga’, ‘Kanwan, Maan Jannat Da Parchaavan’.

The Sufi poetry including ‘Saiful Maluk’ and ‘Heer Waris Shah’ were beautifully recited by Shaukat Ali and recorded on CDs, which are widely available worldwide. Our correspondents add: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of renowned singer Shaukat Ali.

He prayed for the departed soul’s elevation and grant of fortitude and patience to the bereaved family. The PM said that his services to the art of singing in the country would always be remembered.

Also, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar expressed a deep sense of sorrow and grief over the demise of Shaukat Ali. He extended heartfelt sympathies and prayed that may Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and strength to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss with equanimity.

Buzdar said Shaukat Ali earned a unique place among singers of his era and singing style of Shaukat Ali would long be remembered. He promoted patriotism and Punjabi culture through his songs and his death had closed a golden chapter of singing.

Separately, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Shibli Faraz Friday expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of Shaukat Ali. “Every Pakistani is deeply saddened by the demise of Shaukat Ali, the artist who awakened ‘Pakistaniyat’ with his voice, who played a historic role in the wars of defence of Pakistan with exciting national songs and anthems,” Shibli said in a statement here.

He said today the nation had lost a melodious voice in folk and public colours, whose singing reflected regional music and the sentiments of the middle class. “May Allah Almighty grant the deceased a place in His mercy and grant patience to his family. Amen,” he prayed.